No capping the Gandhi topi appeal

Preeti Mehra New Delhi | Updated on March 12, 2018

Supporters of activist Mr Anna Hazare holding protests in Mumbai. — Photo: Shashi Ashiwal   -  Business Line

While the Government seeks to quell the Anna Hazare-led agitation against corruption, it is unusually brisk business for another government agency — the Khadi and Village Industries Commission. Though KVIC does see an annual spurt in demand for the national flag and the Gandhi topi in the run-up to Independence Day, this year, sales for the humble cap have continued on an upward trajectory well past August 15.

At Rs 39 in the KVIC outlets, the iconic cap of India's freedom struggle has made a comeback as a style statement. “Now everyone is buying the cap. By wearing it, Annaji has brought it back into vogue,” says the salesperson at the Khadi Gramodyog Bhavan in Connaught Place, confirming that there has been no let-up in the sales of the cap. “We are selling at least 300-400 per day, with some people picking up a dozen and some even 25 at a time”. Other outlets in Delhi too have witnessed an unusual demand of up to 45-50 caps a day.

Unusual demand

“It's not only in Delhi, we have heard that there is increased demand for the topi in other cities as well,” says an activist involved in the protest. Not surprising, when you watch television footage of protests that have broken out across the country against Anna Hazare's arrest on Tuesday. It clearly testifies to the topi having garnered a special significance during the current agitation. Anna's followers typically don the Gandhi cap, whether they are in Delhi, Patna, Mumbai or Gujarat.

Repeated attempts to contact the KVIC top-brass to ascertain nation-wide sales failed to elicit a response.

Christened the Gandhi topi and popularised by the Father of the Nation, it was almost part of the mandatory dress code of the first generation of freedom fighters and the Indian National Congress. After the Mahatma's death in 1948, the tradition continued, with the cap becoming the trademark of several Prime Ministers. Jawaharlal Nehru made it part of his attire, as also Lal Bahadur Shastri and Morarji Desai.

Published on August 17, 2011

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